Several months into an extensive restoration process, the Transfer Warehouse is in the best condition it’s been in decades.
“The walls are protected more than they have been for 40 years since the roof caved in,” said Kate Jones, executive director of Telluride Arts. “The building is in great shape; much better shape than it has been in for a long time.”
Ensuring that the historical integrity of the building stayed intact prior to converting the space into an arts center was a top priority, Jones said.
“That was an important first step and we just about accomplished it,” she said.
According to John Feinberg, an architectural conservator with The Collaborative Inc. — a Boulder-based firm contracted for the project — the first phase of the restoration is “coming to a close.”
Phase 1 included stabilizing the building by adding steel lintels — horizontal beams that are used to reinforce structures — across the top of all openings including windows and doors. These were then covered by the original wood timber, Feinberg said. Metal rods, also known as connectors, also were inserted into the walls to reinforce the interior and exterior stone.
Another important part of Phase 1 included replacing any loose stone, or stone that had fallen off the walls, which had been exposed to the elements since 1979 when the building’s roof collapsed.
“These walls have been reconstructed to the original height as best as can be determined (through photographs) and a new stone cap has been placed on the top of the walls,” Feinberg said.
Other restoration projects included reconstructing stone arch openings in the building that had “fallen slightly,” removing a vault to make way for more art space, and reinforcing exposed sections of the basement walls.
The doors and windows will also be built as replicas of what was in the original structure, which was constructed in 1906.
Feinberg said the replicas are based on historical pictures of the building.
“There were amazingly few pictures from the horse and buggy days and the vehicle days,” he said, adding that some of the doors were hidden by shadows in the images leaving the details up to a bit of educated guess work.
“We are pretty sure they are vertical plank doors and there was a man door in the east primary entry,” he commented about some of the replications.
According to Jones, once Phase 1 wraps up, the next step will be to finalize the design of the new space.
New York City firm LTL Architects won a competition in May to design the new facility, which will house Telluride Arts and serve as a center for the arts.
The firm’s plans are to construct a building inside of the stone structure of the warehouse.
Jones said this will “maximize the experience of the historic stone walls” because visitors will be able to see both the interior and exterior stone.
In fact, on the north side of the building, the staircase will be built into the space between the new and the old walls.
“We are thrilled with this design,” Jones said.
Another exciting feature, she said, is the “Great Hall,” an open air foyer that leads “into a very warm organic wood space that is appealing throughout.”
Jones said the chosen design really brought to life the essence of the building’s history.
“An important part of the architecture was to not just capture the warehouse from that era (in the 1900s) but also capture the last 40 years of it being a roofless ruin in the center of town,” she said.
Over the next couple of months, Jones said the community will be invited to participate in further envisioning the space, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts.
“That is going to do two things for us. One is to really bring the community back in to think about what the programming of this building will be. Both in the content — kinds of activities, events and exhibits that we will be able to support — and also how that informs the architecture.”
It will also “allow us to commission an artist (most likely digital) to help us capture the story of the Transfer Warehouse and sort of set the stage for its future incarnation as a center for the arts,” she said
Jones said more details will be released soon for both of these opportunities.